Strategy: New Tools to Help Fight Weeds

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Market introductions look to combat resistance issues.

Will 2015 be the year that retailers and seed companies help growers turn the tide on weed resistance and begin supplementing their defensive strategies with a few offensive tools?

The developers of new traits and technologies available to corn, soybean and cotton growers are confident they’re bringing products to the market that give farmers more options for controlling weeds and cultivating high quality crops.

John Kalthoff serves as Dow AgroSciences cross-platform portfolio marketing leader.

John Kalthoff serves as Dow AgroSciences cross-platform portfolio marketing leader.

Dow AgroSciences received news in the fall of last year (2014) that their Enlist corn and soybean traits had been deregulated and authorities gave their approval to register Enlist Duo herbicide for use in six states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Then in April the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the label for Enlist Duo in other key corn- and soybean-producing states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

Similarly, in January 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced they had deregulated dicamba-tolerant traits in cotton and soybeans, clearing the way for Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton seed — a product of Monsanto’s Deltapine, to hit the market.

BASF, the maker of Engenia, a new dicamba herbicide, anticipates that EPA will register its product in mid- to late-2015, allowing it to be used in tandem with those newly-approved dicamba-tolerant crops.

As exciting as these advancements are, scientists hope growers don’t consider these products a “magic bullet” and forego proven management techniques.

What Do They Offer?

Monsanto’s Jordan Iverson has high expectations for Bollgard II XtendFlex varieties this year.

Monsanto’s Jordan Iverson has high expectations for Bollgard II XtendFlex varieties this year.

Monsanto’s new cotton product, part of the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System, is tolerant to dicamba, glyphosate and glufosinate. In 2015, growers will be able to use glyphosate and glufosinate on the crop, while over-the-top use of dicamba waits for approval by EPA.

The Enlist Weed Control System includes: corn, soybean and cotton seed resistant to glyphosate and 2,4-D; the Enlist Duo herbicide; and management resources available through the Enlist Ahead program. Enlist corn also provides tolerance to FOP herbicides, and Enlist soybeans and Enlist cotton provide tolerance to glufosinate herbicides.

The Enlist Duo herbicide features Colex-D Technology, and combines glyphosate with a new 2,4-D choline for weed control that is designed to land and stay on target, says John Kalthoff, Dow AgroSciences cross-platform
portfolio marketing leader.

“Colex-D Technology provides four key benefits: minimized potential for physical drift, ultra-low volatility, low odor and improved handling characteristics,” he adds.

Purdue University’s Bill Johnson, a weed scientist, weighs in on benefits offered by these new technologies.

Purdue University’s Bill Johnson, a weed scientist, weighs in on benefits offered by these new technologies.

Developers at Dow AgroSciences are confident Enlist Duo’s two modes of action, along with a program approach for season-long control, will help manage and prevent resistance. Kalthoff says growers who participated in field trials in 2013 and 2014 didn’t observe signs of crop injury or stress but found they were able to control a wide variety of weeds — from waterhemp and lambsquarters to ragweeds and small seeded broadleaves.

“Engenia is the newest, most advanced formulation of dicamba available from BASF,” says BASF’s Chad Brommer, technical market manager for herbicides. “It’s designed specifically for use in dicamba-tolerant crops, especially cotton and soybeans.

“Crops are able to degrade Engenia but it’s still highly effective on Palmer amaranth. It’s uniquely formulated to reduce off-target exposure.”

Product developers say the herbicide offers burn down of more than 190 annual broadleaf weeds including Palmer amaranth, marestail, morning glory and more.

BASF’s Chad Brommer, technical market manager for herbicides, explains the benefits of Engenia — the company’s newest formulation of dicamba.

BASF’s Chad Brommer, technical market manager for herbicides, explains the benefits of Engenia — the company’s newest formulation of dicamba.

Brommer says “farmers can spend less time worrying about weed control and that means more bushels and more bales of cotton at the end of the year.”

Although a new product, the company has a long history of marketing dicamba products, including Status and Clarity.

“BASF has a 50 year history of using dicamba; Status was sprayed on more than 10 million acres of corn in 2013. We have a good track record so far,” Brommer notes.

Bill Johnson, a weed scientist with Purdue University, says considering the sizeable investments these companies made, there’s a lot for them to lose by not stewarding them properly.

“Certainly, they’ve proceeded down the registration process very carefully,” he says. “I’ve seen demonstrations with these new formulations that give me a great deal of confidence that the herbicides are much less likely to move on their own — of course, it still depends on applicators making good decisions.”

What Can Growers Expect?

A select group of farmers who also own livestock will grow Enlist corn as part of a stewarded introduction in 2015. Kalthoff explains that Dow AgroSciences has outlined the protocols the growers must follow.

“Participating farmers are required to follow strict stewardship procedures. The program requires that Enlist corn be fed on farm. Farmers growing Enlist corn commit that it will not enter the grain channel,” he says.

Just where that corn is grown geographically also depends on state registrations for Enlist Duo. In October 2014, the EPA registered the herbicide for use in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The agency is considering an expansion of registration to ten additional states.

Production of Enlist soybeans this year, through the company’s ‘Field Forward’ program, will be solely for seed. Kalthoff says growers will be chosen to participate based on their interest in the technology and willingness to abide by stewardship guidelines.

“Farmers participating in the stewarded activities for the Enlist system in 2015 will be back in control of resistant weeds and yield,” Kalthoff says. “Growers will plant Enlist corn or soybeans and spray their fields with Enlist Duo herbicide while also using a program approach. Enlist Duo will control the toughest weed species in a long application window, helping to maximize yield.”

Jordan Iverson, cotton traits marketing manager for Monsanto, says they estimate customers of Deltapine and their licensee cotton brands will plant more than half a million acres of Bollgard II XtendFlex varieties this year across a majority of the cotton growing states.

“We’re going to work very closely with our distribution partners and growers on proper variety placement and management recommendations to help them maximize yield potential and fiber quality,” he says. “We’re also committed to educating growers on the added value of both glyphosate and glufosinate tolerance for 2015, as well as helping to ensure understanding that dicamba is not approved for over-the-top use in 2015.”

Unlike other crops, the new cotton will not need to be segregated upon harvest. Bollgard II XtendFlex has been approved for export to Australia, Mexico, Canada and Japan. Other export markets are anticipated to follow.

For Engenia, BASF anticipates registration sometime soon, Brommer says. BASF will continue its training efforts on best practices for growers.

“When handling Engenia, there are certain things growers need to know, which is why we’ve set up an On Target Application Academy,” he says. “Proper use leads to maximum use benefit. We are committed to not just bringing great products to market but also stewarding them.”

In 2014, the training series was used in 24 states where farmers learned about everything from the importance of boom height and proper nozzle size to equipment cleanout.

Looking Ahead to 2016

Based on further deregulation and market expansion, the dawn of the 2016 growing season could be even more noteworthy in the weed resistance battle.

Kalthoff says Dow AgroSciences anticipates Enlist corn and soybeans can have a full commercial launch next year although “we will evaluate our options based on the status of import approvals as the 2016 season gets closer.”

Requests are pending to export the products to both China and the European Union.

Also pending is regulatory approval for Enlist cotton. The company has said previously they anticipate bringing the technology to growers in 2016. Kalthoff says they will fully determine their commercial intentions for it when deregulation and registration are granted.

Iverson says Monsanto hopes to commercialize their dicamba formulations for use next year.

“We are working to gain approvals for over-the-top dicamba use and we’re hopeful these will be achieved for use in the 2016 application season,” he says. “The next step in the process is we expect the EPA to post a draft label for over-the-top dicamba use in the near future which will then be opened for a 30-day public comment period. We’re asking that growers and others in the industry make their positive comments in support of the technology and its value to both growers and the cotton industry.”

BASF hopes for the same thing, giving them the opportunity to fully market Engenia.

“For 2016, we expect dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans will be available with the use of Engenia over the top,” Brommer says.

As use of these new weed fighters expands, scientists such as Purdue’s Johnson, hope that farmers still see value in investing time and resources into diversified weed control techniques. After witnessing the nation’s agriculture industry grapple with ALS- and now glyphosate-resistant weeds, he’s concerned that history could repeat itself.

“If we use this new technology like Round Up, we’ll break that tool as well,” Johnson says.

He encourages retailers and growers to take advantage of the educational materials, such as those available through the United Soybean Board’s “Take Action” campaign.

The campaign encourage those in agriculture to think beyond a single season and work toward long-term solutions. Controlling herbicide-resistant weeds can be challenging.

The campaign is an industry-wide partnership between university weed scientists, major herbicide providers and corn, cotton, sorghum, soy and wheat organizations to help you manage herbicide-resistant weeds.

There are four areas of focus:

Weed Out Resistance — know the weeds, know weed growth, know weed seed characteristics and know herbicide resistance.

In the Field — rotate crops, use multiple herbicide sites of action and incorporate tillage practices.

Spray Attention — know herbicide site of action properties, manage drift, know environmental conditions and know the neighbors.

The Bottom Line — manage risk, know cost-benefits of practices and know the cost of poor weed control.

 

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